It was through the hardworking Farmers for Climate Action that we first came into contact with Methuen Morgan and Dave Mailer, two blokes with a lot of farming experience behind them not to mention academic teaching positions at University in New England. Their quickly expanding business is Meralli Solar where they instal solar farms in the smaller 5 – 15 MW range of the market. They do this with private investment and no government subsidies and their business case is that subsidies aren’t needed given the economics these days of producing electricity from solar as opposed to burning coal. If subsidies are available, they reckon they’re far better directed at large battery development and deployment. They’re also adamant that regional and rural Australia is ripe for this business: the sun is there, the land is there and there are plenty of keen workers in every town and region they set up their solar farms in. Afterglow was able to film their latest solar farm, Meralli’s fourth, which is an hour west of Moree. The astoundingly short installation time (generally half to two thirds of what other solar farms take) is due to the German-developed peg system which requires no concreting or heavy structures and then’s there the and efficiency of these solar farms which is all about densely-packed photovoltaic panels. Their next project is down in Port Pirie, SA. This is something we can take heart from, finally some good news in a political enviroment where mainstream politicians are just so ineffective.
This was a great Afterglow documentary project, working with Pete O’Doherty and brother Reg Mombasa and enjoying their music and art. Mental as Anything still rocks and current band Dog Trumpet’s still playing at venues near you!
Apart from their rich creative lives, Reg and Pete are genuinely good people. Humble, humorous, kind, quick to point out the ridiculousness of the world, sharp-witted … we should clone them. Thank you again, New Zealand, for giving us the O’Doherty brothers.
In every respect shooting, writing and editing this documentary wasn’t easy – nothing’s easy – but it just worked out beautifully. A privilege to choose from not only their back catalogue of music but to use footage from their hilarious video clips. Sometimes you just don’t want projects to ever finish.
Together with Oxfam Afterglow has been working with the Yuin indigenous community on a campaign to regain their traditional fishing rights. Since commercial fishing licenses and bag limits for non-professionals were introduced in the ’70s, Aboriginal communities on the NSW South Coast have been unable to feed their mob and make a living from fishing.
The unusually high rates of illness, joblessness and substance abuse is often attributed by indigenous locals to their being locked out of the industry. There is also an unusually high degree of harassment by local authorities and many community members have been charged and sentenced for exceeding bag limits. In some cases, indigenous elders aged 70 and over have been imprisoned for months at a time for exceeding their bag limit just so they can feed their families.
It’s compelling listening to their stories and over a number of visits to the Moruya/Narooma area we’ve gathered filmed testimonials of many of these cases and edited a number of short profile videos as well as stories about innovations like the first ever native title fishing card which community members can show to Fisheries and police officers to prove they’re legally entitled to catch fish. The South Coast Aboriginal Fishing Group has used the videos as part of their appeal to politicians, bureaucracy, the general community and the media to overturn laws, regulations and practices that are unmistakably discriminatory.
The videos and the campaign have been having an effect with arrests down and no recent gaol charges handed out for fishing offences. With that success the community is now moving ahead with a range of enterprises like abalone farming and cultural water cruises for tourists which will provide training and meaningful work for local indigenous people.
And that, dear readers, is probably one of the sweetest successes we at Afterglow have experienced.
It was Afterglow’s first trip to Papua New Guinea and what a beautiful intense country. There’s the incredible landscapes, bushland, cultural diversity and the different languages spoken every day even in the capital Port Moresby. Then there’s poverty, crime and violence which means visitors are almost always obliged to have security with them anytime they leave their hotel. As an Australian it’s incredibly confronting, especially since it’s so geographically close and we have many common historical and cultural ties. Then again, as a rugby league supporter, Afterglow was overwhelmed by the huge numbers of locals wearing Australian footy jerseys: every team in the Australian NRL was well-represented including of course 2018 Premiers, the Roosters.
Our stories for the World Bank Group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) focused mainly on their Lighting PNG program where inexpensive, high quality, lightweight solar lighting kits were being rolled out across a mostly off-grid nation where most villages are reliant for lighting on poisonous hazardous kerosene lamps or overpriced battery flashlights. papua-new-guinea-300-days-of-sunshine
Two other secondary projects were the long awaited rooftop solar revolution and a new women’s refuge. Rooftop solar is a strange issue because the understanding is that while it’s a country suited for solar power generation the main power utility kept pressure on the government to discourage it because it threatened its business model. Again, more similarities with Australia! The women’s refuge was being built by the Bank of the South Pacific in response to the numbers of female staff victimised by domestic violence.
Eddy Rice was indigenous leader and Federal Senator Patrick Dodson’s nickname for the Edmund Rice Centre which just completed 21 long grinding years fighting for social justice and equality. Dodson gave the keynote address at the celebration shortly after the screening of Afterglow’s short documentary on the centre’s work.
Jonathan Hardy paints with more than what’s on his palette. He’s from Newcastle and has a background in Fine Arts as well as industrial machining and these meet, or rather, collide in his portraits and landscapes. He and partner Amanda also run the Tetch Gallery on Parramatta Road, Annandale. His work is both powerful and subtle with a strong streak of Jackson Pollack and Fred Williams. See our short doco on Jon here
The rebuilt Sydney Seaplanes terminal at Rose Bay now features the Afterglow documentary Flying Boats in the new exhibition space. Made for the Museum of Sydney, the film tells the story of the city’s first international airport set up by Qantas at Rose Bay and the 10 day route the luxurious empire flying boats travelled between here and England.
Lush, green and sometimes a little weird
The video was a cross-country survey of eight NSW grand gardens, from the sub-tropical rainforest garden in the hinterland of Byron Bay to the new world climbing gardens on the old Kent Brewery site in Sydney.
Art and culture are not always about beauty but when it’s there in front of your camera it’s hard to resist – as in this film for the State Library of NSW exhibition as part of bicentennial celebrations for the Botanic Gardens of Sydney.
Afterglow has continued its work with Cox Architecture with a recent profile of the firm’s Chatswood Transport Interchange. The project is a vital urban intervention with its mixed-use transport-oriented complex of major train station and bus station below a shopping and restaurant precinct topped by three landmark residential towers.
Afterglow has been shooting and now editing three short lively films for The State Library of NSW on early Australian poets, Dorothea Mackellar (“I love a sunburnt country…”), Henry Lawson and CJ Dennis. The films are being presented by Sydney author, Libby Hathorn for NSW students and will showcase items from the state library’s collection including original manuscripts, a lock of Mackellar’s hair, Lawson’s death mask and more. Animations noted Sydney artist, Lew Keilar will add to the vivid re-telling of the poets’ lives and writing.
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